You are here: Albums > Display Review

PA of Folk on Tap

reviews The Long Road by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

After rumours of its imminent release the duos latest CD ( their fifth)
finally arrived at SPINS HQ only to be the subject of immediate claims by
eager recipients. However I won and I can report that it is even better than
their last recording, which is something I would have thought pretty near
impossible. The material is a skilfully blended mixture of original songs by
Mick as well as some Trad Arrs with Pete providing the musical arrangements
and backing. Mick supplies most of the vocals with subtle harmonies by Pete,
sometimes multi-tracked although he does have a vocal outing of his own on
The Bonny Irish Maid. They are not afraid to inject humour into their work
and Mick has written a couple of corkers in Holmes and Watson and
Desperate Dan. The first is a tongue-in-cheek look at the eponymous heroes
adventures whilst the second was composed whilst driving from Weymouth to
Dorchester near to Upwey, the place of residence of a certain Mrs Marina
Russell, the 19th century singer known for the more risqué numbers in her
repertoire. Definitely a case of having the muse settle on him, Mick has
forged a song with extremely witty (and risqué) lyrics on the subject of love
and procreation. As an example, where else could you expect to hear the words
fecundity and rotundity in a rhyming couplet? Its also an interesting
tale about unusual birth control advice given by one woman to another in the
form of charging her husband a pound per inch, although Desperate Dan does
plead to be charged on the way out! On the instrumental side Pete has
extended the duos previous range of musical colours by adding whistles,
banjo, mandolin, mandola and bouzouki alongside his usual guitar in various
combinations around their songs. The addition of fiddle, fretless electric
bass and oboe (not all together) here and there brings an extraordinary
breadth to what at first sight to the ill-informed could be a just a CD of a
couple of blokes singing songs. Nothing could be further from the truth,
these guys are extremely gifted musicians who, to quote an old cliché, are
more than the sum of their parts. Ever so much more. I reckon that this CD is
the one that will bring them true national recognition, proving yet again
that given a shot in the arm from such as this magnificent piece of work, the
English folk music tradition has as much relevance in the 21st century as it
has always had. Hugely entertaining, beautifully played and sung this is
going to be a hard act for anyone to follow. Dont hesitate, buy it now, long
before it becomes an album of the year, and get that much more pleasure from
it.